By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
Much of Northeast Mississippi received wintry precipitation Thursday and was expected to see anything from snow to freezing rain late Thursday night and early this morning.
The mix of sleet, snow and freezing rain was a continuation of the ice storm that triggered traffic accidents and power outages over dozens of counties in central and south Mississippi.
By Thursday evening, the Mississippi Department of Transportation had issued emergency advisories of bridge and overpass icing in the Northeast Mississippi counties of Clay, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Oktibbeha,Tippah and Union. Even earlier, the National Weather Service had placed all but coastal counties of the state under a winter storm warning, watch or advisory.
Ice accumulations of 0.1 to 0.3 inches were expected overnight southeast of a line from Calhoun County to Tishomingo County, with as much as three inches of snow, sleet or both possible west and northwest of that line.
“A quarter-inch of ice can bring down small tree limbs and some weak power lines. It’s not typically enough to cause mass power outages,” said Danny Gant, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Memphis. “It definitely can cause problems on roadways.”
It was yet another blast of ice, snow and low temperatures for Northeast Mississippi, which has seen snow on at least four occasions since Christmas. On Jan. 9-10, the area received near-record amounts of snow.
Individuals and institutions began responding to the most recent threat Thursday afternoon. Lafayette County Schools closed and sent buses out early before the snow and sleet that fell early Thursday afternoon could melt and refreeze on roads and bridges. At least one accident involving injury occurred on a slick highway bridge in Oxford.
Farther south, conditions were worse.
“We’ve got a lot of bridges icing up,” Sgt. Brian Mobley of the Mississippi Highway Patrol in Starkville said late Thursday afternoon. “We’ve had several wrecks already. We’re encouraging people to stay off the roads.”
Today, conditions may not be any better until afternoon in some parts of the region. The National Weather Service forecasts freezing rain for Tupelo and the surrounding area, possibly mixed with rain and sleet. Gov. Haley Barbour has delayed the opening of state offices until noon in all areas north of U.S. Highway 98.
After noon, it should become all rain, which will end any additional damage to trees and power lines as well as improving driving conditions. Tonight brings a small chance of snow again, but accumulations are expected to be minimal.
Saturday is expected to be sunny with a high well above freezing, but clouds should return Saturday night and Sunday. The NWS forecasts a small chance of rain and snow for Sunday night, with a minimal chance of snow on Monday night.
Precipitation should clear out completely on Tuesday, but Wednesday morning brings the possibility of temperatures in the mid-teens.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.